Tipping Point NM Episode 148: Pledge To Not Raise Taxes in New Mexico and More

On this week’s podcast, Paul discusses a recent meeting with Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform in New Orleans. In addition to sharing information on the problem of transit projects like the Rail Runner and ART, Paul took the opportunity to remind New Mexico’s political leadership, especially Republicans  who are out of power these days that taking the ATR pledge not to raise taxes is a good starting point if the Party is serious about ever taking power in New Mexico.

New data from Albuquerque’s bus system shows just how bad our existing bus system is.

New Mexico’spersonal incomes still lag behind neighbors.

The New Mexico United soccer team is looking for $30 million in capital outlay money from the State for $100 million facility. But how much MORE from other taxpayers?

Finally, an op-ed from the Albuquerque Journal makes some solid points against Social Security tax elimination. Paul offers a few thoughts on the issue that was previously discussed on the podcast with Fred Nathan.

No, New Mexico doesn’t need a gas tax hike

Continuing their unblemished record of arguing for more taxes, bigger government, and less freedom, the latest piece from a former UNM Law School professor attempts to make the case for a higher gas tax. 

There are so many reasons against raising the gas tax, but here are several:

  1. New Mexico is in the middle of historic budget surpluses with general fund spending (thanks to record oil production) booming from $6.3 billion to nearly $8.0 billion over a two year time period. That’s a 27% increase. There is plenty of money available to build and repair roads, especially in Southeast New Mexico where roads have been impacted by the incredible oil and gas growth.
  2.  New Mexico JUST increased taxes with a significant portion of that tax hike ($52 million annually) going to roads starting this year.
  3. New Mexico should stop wasting $30+million annually on operating the Rail Runner. Ridership on the train is vanishingly small and wastes money that could otherwise be used for road maintenance. To keep spending money on this boondoggle while also calling for higher taxes is ridiculous.
  4. Gas taxes are “regressive.” Not only do the poor allocated a greater percentage of their incomes to paying such taxes, but low-income folks also drive older, less fuel efficient cars.
  5. Finally, although the current political situation in Santa Fe is unlikely to result in needed reform of New Mexico’s labor laws, the fact is that reforming the State’s Davis-Bacon “prevailing wage” law could result in cost reductions for a variety of transportation projects including roads (and schools). A 2017 fiscal analysis from the Legislature found that legislation that would simply have reduced the impact of New Mexico’s law would have saved New Mexico’s Department of Transportation between $20 million to $22 million annually based on 2017-2018 active construction projects.

New Mexico government is already bloated and the State is considered the worst run in the entire nation. Rather than just handing more money over to Santa Fe, it is time we expect a little better management of our tax dollars.

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Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 147 Doug Messier – Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic: The Numbers Never Add Up

On this week’s interview, Paul sits down with Doug Messier who writes and runs the website Parabolic Arc. The site itself deals with the private space industry and the many people and players involved in it.
Messier recently wrote an article, “Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic: The Numbers Never Added Up” which looks back at some promises made by Richard Branson and others involved with Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America and deconstructs the “pie in the sky” promises made. Finally, Paul and Doug discuss the safety of the rockets being launched at the Spaceport.

Dominant source of United soccer stadium funding should be private sources, not taxpayers

The New Mexico United soccer franchise had a great first season. With Santa Fe swimming in oil and gas revenues, the team’s ownership is already looking to cash in with a new soccer-specific stadium. Their plan (released after this interview was recorded) is for a $100 million facility with $30 million coming from the State. 

But, the plan is not finalized yet and local taxpayers can expect to also face additional demands for money to pay for a new facility for the team. Rio Grande Foundation president talked to KOB TV Channel 4 about the issue. While the comments were shortened dramatically for the story, the gist of the situation is that stadiums should NOT be funded with taxpayer dollars. That being said, the team and its owners/investors must come up with a significant proportion of the funding. Creative ideas like using the underutilized UNM football stadium or soccer facilities should also be considered.

To win New Mexico Republicans and their candidates must oppose tax hikes

I know it may seem silly at this point to argue directly to the GOP in New Mexico given their lack of political power in the Land of Enchantment, but the political winds shift and MLG and the “progressives” in control of the New  Legislature show every sign of moving too far to the left.

So, if the GOP is every going to gain the upper hand, they need to present a principled alternative to leftist policies, not a lighter shade of grey. One easy way to draw a clear line in the sand is to clearly state that you will not raise taxes (especially given the size of the budget surplus, but especially given the size of New Mexico government). In 2019 some Republicans caved to calls to raise taxes despite record surpluses. This has frequently been the case over the years. IT NEEDS TO STOP!

The group Americans for Tax Reform has a pledge that can (and should) be signed by ALL candidates of ALL parties running for office. Here is a link to the ATR pledge.  If you are serious about getting elected AND turning New Mexico’s economy around, saying you won’t raise taxes is a good starting point. Since we at the Rio Grande Foundation care mostly about legislators, I have helpfully placed that pledge form below:

Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 146: Election Recap, Oil, ART and Soccer

On this week’s episode, Paul and Wally recap the local elections as well as a big national vote that took place up the road in Colorado.

Further data points to just how big New Mexico’s oil boom is, but when it comes to job growth, New Mexico is only on par with its neighbors and its cities lag.

Finally, ART appears to finally be ready to go by November 30 meaning it should beat the Spaceport into service, but also that traffic patterns on Central will change once again.

Finally, the New Mexico United are looking to Santa Fe for money for a new soccer-only stadium. While details are scarce, what does this mean?

ABQ’s bus disaster (and we’re not talking about ART)

While the Rio Grande Foundation worked VERY hard and achieved a big victory recently over “Democracy Dollars,” the Albuquerque election in particular was rather disappointing. The issue of transportation showed voters’ propensity to “blindly” approve ill-advised spending projects.

The starting point was the 1/4 cent transportation tax, 38% of which will be spent on buses and other transit. Another $6 million in tax-financed bonds were approved by voters for transit projects.

But what are we getting for that money in terms of transportation services? The answer is not a whole lot. As Dennis Domrzalski points out in his new report, Albuquerque bus traffic is plummeting Using data provided by the City, Domrzalski found that bus ridership dropped 7.5 percent this year and is down an astonishing 31 percent since 2012.

Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that the percentage of operating costs covered by bus riders has dropped from 10% to 7% since 2013 alone. That’s a 30 percent decline.

With the widely-derided ART boondoggle about to get running, we will see yet another massive investment in transit. But, if transit ridership trends in Albuquerque and elsewhere hold, the bus system will continue to lose riders AND gobs of money.

How New Mexico’s Personal Incomes Stack Up

Is the Rio Grande Foundation attempting to throw some “cold water” on the narrative that New Mexico’s economy is booming due to oil production and that we can just spend the money on new government programs without concern to adopting long-overdue free market reforms? Yes, that is the case.

Here’s the latest data set which shows that New Mexico has a lot of work to do before it becomes as economically-successful as its neighbors. The data below are from the St. Louis Federal Reserve.  While it compares New Mexico with its neighbors, the State has the 3rd-lowest average personal income in the nation (only West Virginia and Mississippi are lower). Notably, while each of our neighbors has its own pro-growth policies in place, Colorado’s recent vote to preserve the Taxpayers Bill of Rights is a lead contributor to that State’s incredible performance.

New Mexico economy IS booming, but only to levels already experienced in neighboring states

Driven by unprecedented oil and gas production, New Mexico’s economy is doing quite well. That is definitely good news for the State, but at the Rio Grande Foundation we understand that commodity-driven booms don’t last forever. It is sound, pro-growth public policy that ultimately makes a state or nation economically-successful.  And New Mexico has never been a pro-growth state.

The Rio Grande Foundation put the chart showing year-over-year job growth together using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here are a few salient points:

1) The economy is generally good all over and jobs and economic growth continue to move to states in the South and West with whom New Mexico shares a border. So, after years of New Mexico lagging behind, the oil boom happening in the State has propelled overall job growth to…about the same level as our neighbors.

2) While the State as a whole is doing VERY well economically, New Mexico’s four major cities are not leading the charge in terms of job growth. Obviously much of the growth is centered in the oil and gas regions of New Mexico, but considering the money flowing into our State and the overall economy, growth rates outside of Albuquerque are pretty anemic.


Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 145: Fred Nathan – Think New Mexico – Retirement Proposals

On this week’s interview, Paul sits down with Fred Nathan, the head of Think New Mexico, a think tank based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The group has proposed a series of reforms for the upcoming 2020 legislative session centered on the issue of retirement. The three-pronged approach includes proposals that attempt to attract more retirees to our State, reform public employee pensions, and to help more private-sector workers access retirement plans.
Find out more at: www.thinknewmexico.org

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